“So, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?” a Canadian friend asked me the other day.
“What does one do?” I asked her back.
She told me about family dinners and get-together’s, long walks and drives. We don’t have family here and long walks are limited owing to our toddler, but I immediately caught on to the idea of a long drive, especially when she started telling me about scenic Fall routes in Ontario.
Thanksgiving was to be a double celebration for us this year. It was also my husband’s birthday. So I came back home that day and asked him if he would like to go on a beautiful long drive for his birthday. I showed him some photographs from the internet, we checked out the route and just like that, we were all set for our long weekend.
We set off on Monday morning and as soon as we hit the highway, I started wondering if we were taking the drive too early in the season. Most trees seemed green! But we were driving north to Haliburton and the best lay ahead of us.
An hour into the drive, we started seeing pockets of dramatic colours. A cluster of trees in blazing red colours. A couple of cheerful yellow trees billowing in the backdrop. Trees in a fiery orange lined up along a lake. Closer to Haliburton county, the roads we were driving became incredibly beautiful. So much colour lit up the flora. Every conceivable hue of orange, red, yellow and green and then some more.
The route we were driving was dotted by lakes. Canada is known for its bounty of big and small lakes and we got a good reflection of this richness on our drive. We stopped at a waterfall and a dam. We crossed pretty rivers winding across the countryside. On a whim, my husband left the highway to take a narrow road down to a lake. We had this huge lake all to ourselves. We sat by it and watched the trees surrounding the lake, while their beautiful colours reflected in the waters.
Our toddler was delighted by the opportunity to drop stones into the lake. We filled our sights and minds with the incredible views and soothing quiet. A while later, we drove into Haliburton. A tiny town with a population of only about 1000 people, Haliburton sees an influx of many tourists each year. Why? It’s an unbelievably picturesque town with its own lake, hills and a dense cover of trees which were at their peak beauty when we arrived.
A local told us that we had come in good time. A few more days and the leaves were all going to fall. Each year, he said, there is a very short window of about two weeks when the leaves go from green to all these amazing colours and then fall off. We had been lucky to have heard about Haliburton when we did and to have been able to drive across owing to the weekend.
After a walk around the lake with a steaming cup of coffee, we drove up to Skyline Park for a view of the entire countryside. Perched up on a hill, the viewing point proffered a 180 degree view of the lake, the hills and a huge, huge expanse of red, orange and yellow trees extending as far as the eyes could see. It was breathtaking!
We were only granted five minutes of this experience before it started raining. We packed ourselves up in the car and drove back home with contented hearts.
The drive was totally worth it and I believe there are many scenic fall routes across Canada. If you are in this country in the heart of Fall, don’t miss the opportunity to see one of Nature’s miracles playing out. It is, without a doubt, an experience of a lifetime!
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.